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Our Staff Writers and Editors offer insights on the latest news, events, interviews and other happenings from the development through enterprise and base of the pyramid universes
Monday, August 24, 2009 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Social Entrepreneur Has Venture Backing to Light Up the World

Source: Global Atlanta

D.light Design Inc., which manufactures and sells solar-powered lamps in poor areas of the globe, is an example of a company that seeks to bring entrepreneurship to a social mission. GlobalAtlanta met representatives of the company during the First East Africa Energy Conference held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in June. The company, which was incorporated in May 2007, opened its East Africa office in Tanzania this year. Sam Goldman, a co-founder, was a Peace Corps volunte...
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Monday, August 24, 2009 — South Asia

Indian Regulations Stifling for Social Investing

Source: Times of India

Harold Rosen founded the Grassroots Business Initiative (GBI) of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation in 2004. In 2008, GBI spun off into the non-profit Grassroots Business Fund, which, among other things, looks at funding socially relevant projects in India. Rosen spoke to Atul Sethi about the potential of social enterprise funding in India: What makes you want to invest in India? India's world-class, cost-effective skilled labour force canno...
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Monday, August 24, 2009 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Phillips Develops Off-Grid Lighting for Africa

Source: Treehugger

Phillips apparently sees a fruitful market among the nearly 2 billion people who lack access to electricity. The company is rolling out a small line of lighting products specifically designed for the needs of those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. We've seen Phillips' interest in this area before with its smokeless cooking stove, and we've seen what a difference simple lighting technology can make for rural communities. An entrant into this year's Index Award,...
Monday, August 24, 2009 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Bottom of the Pyramid Plan Boosts Revenues

Source: Business Daily Africa

Family Bank has transformed itself from a building society formed in 1984 to a fully-fledged bank. The indigenous bank has since its conversion in May 2007 been on a growth path in terms of customer outreach and the bottom line. It boasts of 44 branches spread across the country. Within the last one year the bank has added 11 branches to its network ,indicating its growth momentum. Operating in an increasingly competitive market, the bank has managed to hold its head high among its...
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Monday, August 24, 2009 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Healthcare focus tackles the heart of the matter

Source: Financial Times

I have been in Nairobi for 10 weeks, but in terms of knowledge and experience accumulated it feels like aeons. I am working as an intern with Acumen Fund, a global social venture fund. It provides equity and debt financing to enterprises that use market-based approaches to supply goods and services to the base of the pyramid - people earning under $4 (€2.79, £2.42) a day. My focus is on healthcare systems in East Africa, in particular mapping out the ecosystem for health...
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 — No Region Specified

Doing Business in the Developing World's Toughest Markets

Source: Wall Street Journal

The developing world is home to some of the most challenging markets for any business: Urban slums. Rural backwaters. Lawless regions and battle zones. But hundreds of millions of potential customers live in these places, and a few pioneering companies are thriving there. Their success offers lessons on how to tap these complex environments for profits and growth. All of these markets share certain challenges. They often lack functioning legal systems, so contracts are r...
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Thursday, August 13, 2009 — No Region Specified

A Global Surge in Tiny Loans Spurs Credit Bubble in a Slum

Source: Wall Street Journal

RAMANAGARAM, India -- A credit crisis is brewing in "microfinance," the business of making the tiniest loans in the world. Microlending fights poverty by helping poor people finance small businesses -- snack stalls, fruit trees, milk-producing buffaloes -- in slums and other places where it's tough to get a normal loan. But what began as a social experiment to aid the world's poorest has also shown it can turn a profit. That has attracted private-equity funds and other for...
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Monday, August 10, 2009 — No Region Specified

Financial exclusion has to end

Source: Economic Times

The inclusive story is still a distant dream. Despite the government drive to reduce the unbankable population, the status is far from rosy. With less than 50% of India’s population operating a bank account
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Monday, August 10, 2009 — No Region Specified

Business for the people, by the people, of the people

Source: Economic Times

Mahatma Gandhi gave independent India’s leaders a test for their policies. Consider how they will benefit the poorest man, he said. India’s Constitution gave political freedom to all Indians. All, rich and poor, men and women, were given the right to vote: before the US and several European countries had given such rights to their citizens. In the 1990s, new policies brought economic freedoms to Indians that they had been denied earlier: the freedom to start and...
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Monday, August 10, 2009 — No Region Specified

New Corporate Structure Could Give Social Entrepreneurs New Funding Stream

Source: Chicago Tribune

By Ann Meyer After nearly four decades of running a staffing agency on a shoestring budget, John Plunkett hopes the next business he starts will be a moneymaker thanks to a new law that recognizes for-profit businesses with a strong social bent. The law, After nearly four decades of running a staffing agency on a shoestring budget, John Plunkett hopes the next business he starts will be a moneymaker thanks to a new law that recognizes for-profit businesses with a strong soci...
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Friday, August 07, 2009 — No Region Specified

Collegiate altruists to converge on UNC

Source: The Herald-Sun

CHAPEL HILL -- Building sustainable gardens in Argentina, constructing chicken coops in Tanzania and building an irrigation system in Bolivia are examples of projects performed by Nourish International, an organization that is hosting its second annual Summer Institute that will take place on the UNC campus from Thursday to Aug. 10. College students from 30 campuses across the country will be traveling to Chapel Hill to attend the Summer Institute, a five-day training conference t...
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Friday, August 07, 2009 — No Region Specified

Social Entrepreneurs from around the World Come to Santa Clara

Source: Business Wire

Santa Clara University's Center for Science, Technology, and Society will soon kick off a two-week program as part of its Global Social Benefit Incubator, in which venture capitalists and technology executives trade ideas with social entrepreneurs from around the world. These innovators and entrepreneurs will descend on Silicon Valley August 16-28 for an intensive, two-week residential "boot camp" intended to boost their socially conscious business ventures into the realm of sustain...
Friday, August 07, 2009 — No Region Specified

On the Call: P&G CEO Bob McDonald

Source: Forbes

The Procter & Gamble Co. uses a slogan that its consumer products touch and improve lives. Traditionally, that's meant with "new and improved" innovations of Tide detergent and Crest toothpaste and other products. But the company is pushing to increase sales in developing countries where per capita incomes are far below U.S. consumers, in a global recession. Bob McDonald, who took over July 1 as CEO, discussed the challenge in P&G's fourth-quarter earnings conference cal...
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Friday, August 07, 2009 — No Region Specified

Making Eyeglasses That Let Wearers Change Focus on the Fly

Source: The New York Times

As a promising Caltech graduate student in applied physics, Stephen Kurtin could have taken a job offer from Intel at the dawn of the microelectronics era 40 years ago. Instead he followed the path of a lone inventor, gaining more than 30 patents in fields including word processing software and sound systems, culminating in the pair of glasses resting on his nose, which he believes can free nearly two billion people around the world from bifocals, tr...
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Thursday, August 06, 2009 — No Region Specified

The Next Billion Cell Phone Users

Source: mobile phones

If you've ever traveled the world, you'll eventually discover that the US mobile phone market and technologies are always about 2 - 4 years behind Japan, Korea, the Nordics and even the Philippines and India. The US with it's advanced telecommunication infrastructure is hobbled by its own enormous capital expenditure investments in hardwired systems. Mobile infrastructures in emerging countries have no need to string copper and fiber optics along great distances to deliver widely ...
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Wednesday, August 05, 2009 — South Asia

Aavishkar Goodwell Invests in Early Stage Microfinance

Source: VC Circle

SMF will be the first MFI in India to secure equity funding prior to the commencement of its ops. Pune based Suryoday Microfinance (SMF), a micro finance company led by three former bankers, has received an equity investment of Rs 45 million from Aavishkaar Goodwell India Microfinance Development Company. An interesting point to note is that this would be the first MFI in India to secure equity funding from an institutional investor prior to the commencement of its oper...
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Wednesday, August 05, 2009 — Asia Pacific

Emerging Market for Medicines

Source: Financial Times

When Haruo Naito, chief executive of Eisai, the Japanese pharmaceutical company, signalled his continued interest in western markets by inaugurating his company's European headquarters in the UK last month, his mind was already elsewhere. "We have already finished our investments in all major areas in the US and Europe," he says. "Now we are thinking about new areas. We are very interested in emerging markets, especially China, India, the Middle East, Turkey and north Africa."
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